In general, identity theft is a serious crime in which the offender uses someone else’s personal identification data to commit fraud, such as making online purchases or applying for a job. However, it’s important to note that these acts can be further classified by severity. Specifically, some offenses may be recognized as “federally aggravated,” which can intensify the potential penalties the defendant faces if proven guilty. To shed more light on this illegal activity, here are a few frequently asked questions about federally aggravated identity theft and how a criminal lawyer may present these cases in court.
A Guide to Federally Aggravated Identity Theft
What types of identity theft are considered federally aggravated?
This category refers to situations when a person uses another’s information in connection with criminal activity other than general fraud. For example, an offense might be federally aggravated if the offender used someone’s personal information to:
- Commit bank, wire, or mail fraud.
- Fraudulently obtain or produce passports, visas, or alien registration cards.
- Steal public money.
- Fraudulently acquire a firearm.
- Make false statements related to Social Security matters.
- Embezzle or steal money as a bank employee or officer.
Personal identifying information can include another individual’s name, credit card, Social Security number, date of birth, and passport number.
How are cases proven?
Prosecution attorneys representing federally aggravated identity theft cases will need to demonstrate three factors to prove a defendant’s guilt. First, it must be shown that the defendant knowingly obtained or used the identification information of another person.
Secondly, this use of information must have been done without lawful authority. After those facts are proven, it must be demonstrated that the defendant used this data to commit a felony that qualifies the identity theft as “federally aggravated.”
What are the potential penalties?
As a felony, federally aggravated identity theft charges can result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of two years. If the charge involves an act of terrorism, the mandatory minimum imprisonment is extended to five years. However, this minimum sentence may be added consecutively to separate charges in relation to the crime—such as penalties related to wire fraud or embezzlement.
How might a criminal lawyer defend federally aggravated identity theft?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, a criminal lawyer may strengthen a defense by proving that the client didn’t possess information illegally or intend to commit a criminal act. They might also show that the presented evidence was insufficient.
If you or someone you love has been charged with any form of identity theft, Bray & Johnson Law Firm offers representation to protect your rights. Placing the client as a priority, these criminal lawyers in Canton, GA, will research all elements of your case to build a strong defense and ensure fair treatment in a court of law. To learn more about their practice areas, visit this legal office online. Schedule a convenient consultation by calling (770) 479-1426.